20 Careers in Real Estate and What They Pay

Published November 22, 2021
Real Estate agent showing woman house

Real estate is an interesting career path that includes a lot of options, some of which may surprise you. There is much more to the field of real estate than buying and selling property. Discover 20 interesting careers in real estate. Get a sense of what each type of job involves, and a general idea of how much it pays. The salary data provided below is based on nationwide U.S. earnings as of 2021.

1. Real Estate Agent

Real estate agents work with people who are buying or selling homes. Some work as buyer's agents, which means they specialize in working with people looking to purchase a home. Some work as listing agents, which means they focus on helping people who are seeking to sell their homes. Some do both. Working as a real estate agent requires formal education and a license. Most real estate agents are self-employed and work under a broker. Real estate agents work on commission, earning a percentage of the purchase price on each home they list or sell. There is no guarantee of income in this occupation. On average, real estate agents earn around $49,000 per year.

2. Real Estate Broker

Real estate brokers can do everything that real estate agents can do, but they have to complete additional training and licensure requirements. Every real estate office has to have at least one designated broker, who is responsible for ensuring that the real estate agents who operate through that office are in compliance with all applicable laws and requirements. Brokers also oversee general office operations. They are typically paid a salary, plus a commission of each sale made by the real estate agents who work under their oversight. Brokers tend to earn well over $100,000 per year, which may be all commission or, for those who manage a real estate office, also include salary.

Couple sitting at the desk in the bank and signing loan agreement

3. Real Estate Appraiser

Real estate appraisers determine the value of homes, land, and commercial properties. They research factors that impact property value, then compare the locations they are tasked with appraising against set criteria in order to determine the value of each property. Their work helps determine the market value of a property and provides lenders with information they use to determine how much they should consider loaning to a person who is seeking a mortgage to buy the property. Working in this field requires specialized training, along with certification and/or licensure, based on state requirements. On average, real estate appraisers earn around $57,000 per year.

4. Home Inspector

Home inspectors examine the interior and exterior of residential properties and write a report about their overall condition. They do a thorough inspection focused on identifying structural problems and other hazards. They provide a written report that points out any code violations, issues with plumbing, foundation problems, roof condition, and other parts of the property. Sellers use this information to decide what repairs to make to their home before listing it. Buyers will use it to help decide if they want to purchase a property and/or what repairs to require. Home inspectors earn an average of around $50,000 per year. Licensure is required in some states.

5. Home Staging Professional

Home staging professionals help sellers or real estate agents decide how residential properties should be painted, furnished, and otherwise set up in order to increase their visual appeal to buyers. Their work focuses on making the most of a property from a visual perspective in order to help it sell quickly and at maximum value. Home staging professionals earn an average of around $49,000 per year. While you don't have to be a certified interior designer to work as a home staging professional, it is important to be knowledgeable about interior design and what visual elements motivate people to buy homes.

6. Mortgage Loan Officers

Mortgage loan officers work with individuals who are seeking to borrow money to purchase a home or other real estate. They are employed directly by lenders. They are responsible for collecting and verifying financial information provided by borrowers, as well as details about the property for which a loan is being sought, via the underwriting process used to determine if a loan can be approved or not. This job requires extensive knowledge of mortgage lending requirements and a high level of attention to detail. The average pay for loan officers is around $64,000 per year.

7. Mortgage Broker

Mortgage brokers also work with people seeking to borrow money to buy a home but, unlike loan officers, they do not work directly for a lender. Instead, mortgage brokers work for companies that specialize in matching prospective borrowers with lenders who have loan programs that best meet their needs. They don't actually loan money directly to people. Instead, they help their clients find lenders who are willing to loan them money for the real estate transaction they are looking to close. They work on commission, getting paid only when a loan is closed. On average, mortgage brokers earn around $84,000 per year.

8. Title Examiner

Title examiners work for title insurance companies, where they fulfill an important role in the process of buying and selling real estate. Before a property can be transferred from one person to another, a title examiner will conduct extensive research to verify that the person seeking to sell the property is the legal owner, and determine if there are any liens or outstanding loans against the property. They check mortgage records, tax records, court records, and other legal documents in order to find out if there are any claims against the property that would prevent it from being conveyed to someone else. The average annual pay for title examiners is around $48,000 per year.

9. Escrow Officer

Escrow officers typically work for title companies. Their role is to ensure that real estate transactions are properly executed. An escrow officer does not represent the buyer, seller, real estate agent, or lender. Instead, they function as a neutral third party who is responsible for making sure that the terms of the contract are met by all who are involved. Among other duties, they hold the earnest money deposit made by the buyer, order all the necessary research and documents, coordinate and oversee the closing process, and ensure that any liens or loans attached to the property are paid off out of the proceeds so the title can transfer to the new owner. The average pay for escrow officers is around $57,000 per year.

10. Residential Property Manager

Residential property managers are responsible for proper oversight of rental properties that people live in. Some manage a portfolio of rental homes, while others manage apartment complexes or rental units within condominium complexes. They are responsible for making sure that the overall property runs properly, including overseeing employees, handling tenant concerns, scheduling maintenance and repairs, purchasing, budgeting, ensuring bills are paid, regulatory compliance, and all other aspects of day-to-day operations. The average compensation for residential property managers is around $60,000 per year.

agent showing new property to couple outdoors

11. Residential Leasing Agent

Residential leasing agents are responsible for renting out houses or apartments to tenants. They meet with prospective tenants, show units to them, take applications and security deposits and execute leases with those who are accepted and decide to move in. They also coordinate lease renewals and work with tenants to help ensure their needs are met, especially with regard to the move-in process. Leasing agents make an average of around $35,000 per year, which generally includes an hourly amount and a commission for each new lease.

12. Commercial Leasing Agent

A commercial leasing agent handles leases to business clients rather than people looking for a place to live. They represent owners of office buildings and retail developments in lease transactions. Their work involves meeting with prospective tenants and showing them office space, storefront space, or land available as a ground lease. The leasing agent coordinates between prospective tenants and owners regarding what kind of build-out might be needed, and who is responsible for paying for needed changes or improvements. The average compensation for commercial leasing agents is around $53,000 per year.

13. Community Association Managers

Community association managers contract with homeowners' associations (HOAs) to oversee the communal aspects of neighborhoods, residential developments, planned communities, and condominiums. They handle collecting association dues and assessments and ensuring that collected funds are properly used to maintain or enhance things like neighborhood amenities, entrances, and other shared spaces. They also handle disputes related to the association's bylaws and other matters of concern to residents. They are typically contracted to work with multiple upscale properties. The average compensation for community association managers is around $57,000 per year.

14. Retail Property Managers

Retail property managers handle various aspects of tenant relations at shopping malls, shopping centers, strip centers, and other commercial developments used by stores, restaurants, and other retail businesses. They oversee staff and contract with vendors who perform services necessary to the day-to-day operation and maintenance of the complexes they are responsible for managing. They handle collecting rent and making sure that tenant accounts are properly credited, and work closely with tenants to ensure their needs are met. They also oversee lease terms, including ensuring that tenants remain in compliance with requirements. The average pay for retail property managers is around $67,000 per year.

15. Real Estate Developer

Real estate developers are responsible for overseeing the creation of residential and commercial real estate projects. For example, they may identify and purchase large plots of land to be used to develop subdivisions, apartment or condominium complexes, or commercial enterprises such as office buildings or strip centers. They may fund the property developments themselves or via their employers, or locate and coordinate with investors. The average annual compensation for real estate developers is around $74,000 per year.

architects looking at plans

16. Site Selection Consultant

A site selection consultant helps businesses identify the best locations in which to expand their enterprises. A company looking to open a new manufacturing facility won't just randomly pick a place. Instead, a site selection consultant will help them find a place that offers a desirable location, has ready access to a skilled workforce, and a state and/or local government willing to make tax concessions or otherwise incentivize the organization to bring new jobs to their state, city, or county. Large, growth-focused companies often have site selection consultants on staff, while others contract with site selection firms or individual consultants. The average compensation for site selection consultants is around $109,000 per year.

17. Property Assessors

Often referred to as tax assessors, property assessors are responsible for determining the value of real estate plots and properties for taxation purposes. They provide updated values to homeowners each year. The amounts they determine are used to calculate what the property owner's tax bill will be for the following year. They are employed by city or county governments. The average annual compensation for tax assessors who do property assessments is around $65,000 per year.

18. Real Estate Attorney

Real estate lawyers primarily handle contracts related to buying and selling real estate transactions. Some work directly with individuals who are buying and selling homes, and/or the real estate agents, brokers, or title agents who are involved in the transactions. Some draw up leases on behalf of property owners or review them on behalf of prospective tenants. Many represent parties involved in disputes related to real estate contracts or transactions. They may also handle foreclosures and/or evictions. The average pay for real estate attorneys is around $118,000 per year.

19. Real Estate Paralegal

Real estate paralegals, sometimes referred to as legal assistants, provide assistance to attorneys who specialize in real estate law. They may work for law firms or corporations that have in-house counsel dedicated to legal matters associated with real estate. They do legal research and provide administrative support related to all types of real estate transactions, including purchasing and selling property, leasing property, developing property, or building real estate. The average pay for paralegals who specialize in real estate is around $61,000 per year. Employers often prefer to hire paralegals who have completed a legal studies training program.

20. Real Estate Investor

There are many ways to work as a real estate investor. Anyone who invests money in real estate for the purpose of earning a return on that investment is a real estate investor. This includes people who purchase homes to flip, individuals who own and rent out residential or vacation property, and those who purchase land to develop and sell. This type of work requires investing your own money, or funds that you are able to gather from other investors, so it is not without risk. Successful real estate investors can earn well over $100,000 per year, but it's also possible to lose money in this field.

Many Real Estate Career Options

There are many ways to pursue a career in real estate. Whether you like the idea of helping people or investors purchase or sell land or buildings, or you're more interested in working with leasing rental property, there are plenty of options to consider.

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20 Careers in Real Estate and What They Pay